Friday, June 24, 2016

Hello from ALA Land in Sunny Orlando!

Hey everyone!

I'm heading to Orlando today to attend the Annual Conference of the American Library Association. While I do not have my MLS, I do work full time in an academic library and I find conferences such as ALA extremely important for so many reasons.

I hope to meet up with both colleagues and blogger friends, attend some sessions and of course, spend some time on the exhibit floor!

If you're in Orlando this weekend and want to meet up - send me a line!

I'll be tweeting (@WilowRedHouse) and Instagraming (@WilowRaven) as much as possible while enjoying myself and staying as far from the sun as possibly without actually burrowing underground :)

Hope everyone is having a fabulous Friday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blog Tour / Change Places With Me by Lois Metzger / Guest Post and GIVEAWAY!

Hello lovelies!

Welcome to my stop on the tour!

Lois Metzger is here sharing some thoughts on her fictional Queens neighborhood, Belle Heights. Being a Long Island girl, NYC will always be my city and I loved how Lois came up with her ideas on the neighborhood. I'll always be a New York girl so this was a real treat for me :)

There's also a giveaway at the end - but you have to read through the post to get there :)

I know you're only here for the details so let's begin!

Rose has changed.
She still lives in the same neighborhood with her stepmother and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was just a little different than it was before.
The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror.
Her hair and her clothes all feel brand-new.
She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before.
There is no more sadness in her life; she is bursting with happiness.

But something still feels wrong to Rose.
Because, until very recently, Rose was an entirely different person—a person who is still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.


ABOUT LOIS METZGER:
Lois Metzger was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of five novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and The Huffington Post. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.


From Lois:

If you could live anywhere else besides Greenwich Village in New York City, where would it be?

I love my neighborhood and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

However…

There’s a place I spend a lot of time in because it’s the setting for my novels, a neighborhood in Queens, in New York City, that’s rich in geological history but where there’s not a whole else going on. It’s called Belle Heights and it doesn’t exist.

The first time I wrote about Belle Heights was in my book, Missing Girls. To Carrie, the main character, “Belle Heights, out in the far reaches of an outer borough of New York City, felt more like an absence than a presence, a nothing instead of a something. It wasn’t quaint and friendly, like a small town. It wasn’t thrilling, like the center of a big city. It wasn’t hushed and beautiful, like the countryside. In fact, it looked washed-out, colorless—a smudge of a neighborhood.” Like most kids growing up in Belle Heights, Carrie can’t stand the neighborhood.

In my last novel, A Trick of the Light, the narrator, who actually likes Belle Heights, describes it as having “a pleasantly anonymous quality. Planes are constantly overhead, which creates a whooshing sound in the sky; the Belle Heights Expressway is always crowded, creating a whooshing sound on the ground. Some streets are hilly as roller coasters because back in the Ice Age glaciers traveled south, pushing rocks and sand and clay in front of them, and the glaciers stopped here before moving up north again. They left all their glacier junk behind, right here in Belle Heights.”

Change Places with Me takes place in the year 2029. Rose, the main character, even likes the neighborhood in the future: “Everyone said Belle Heights was so boring, a big chunk of nothing. Belle Drive, the busiest street, was a museum, a fossil, a dinosaur compared to neighboring Spruce Hills, which had giant stores like Target, Home Depot and Asteroid, and smaller, trendy stores opening all the time. But Rose decided she liked the fact that, except for the hydro-buses (and she could hear one wheezing behind her, a sure sign it was about to stall), long, winding Belle Drive had changed so little over the years.”

When I was growing up in the real neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, I found it crushingly dull. Now Flushing is a very different place, vibrant and diverse. But my imagination lives in the “old” Queens, which is why I had to invent Belle Heights, a place practically untouched by time.

The “Belle” comes from Belle Boulevard, an actual expressway in Queens, which like any expressway of course isn’t very belle. (Nor is the nearby real-life Utopia Parkway a slice of heaven.) The “Heights” comes from the equally real neighborhood of Jackson Heights, and suits fictional Belle Heights because of the steep hills left behind by the Ice Age.

The best thing about a dull, monotonous place is that it creates a strong contrast to the characters themselves, going through their own earth-shattering changes; and the uneven landscape of Belle Heights, full of highs and lows, is a perfect setting for characters having to navigate their way through their own rough terrain.

Thank you Lois for sharing this with us!

Giveaway:
3 Finished Copies of CHANGE PLACES WITH ME (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:
Week 1:
6/13: Pretty Deadly Reviews - Review
6/14: Arctic Books - Floral Inspirations
6/15: Lekeisha the Booknerd - Review
6/16: Here's to Happy Endings - Guest Post
6/17: The Irish Banana Review - Review

Week 2:
6/20: Brittany's Book Rambles - Q&A
6/21: Pondering the Prose - Review
6/22: Red House Books - Guest Post
6/23: Literary Lover - Review
6/24: Storybook Slayers - Top 10

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Half Year Mark Favorites


Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Hello hello!

Today in Top Ten Land we're talking about our favorite 2016 releases so far this year.
Can you believe the year is almost half over!?

Here are my top 10 6 favs so far!

Shallow Graves
by Kali Wallace

A different tale about life after death.
It's also a standalone which I loved and there isn't really a romance which was refreshing.

GOODREADS | MY REVIEW

Stars Above
by Marissa Meyer

Book 4.5 in the Lunar Chronicles pulling together a bunch of short stories and while you don't need to read it to enjoy the series, I highly recommend it!

GOODREADS


Reign of Shadows
by Sophie Jordan

A fantastic fantasy with some twists! I can't wait for book 2.

GOODREADS | MY REVIEW



A Gathering of Shadows
by V.E. Shwab

Book 2 in the Shades of Magic series and OMG I loved it so much! A must must read for adult (and young adult) fantasy fans. Book 3 cannot come soon enough.

GOODREADS


Seven Black Diamonds
by Melissa Marr

I've been having a heard time putting into words why I loved this book so much. It's Melissa Marr and it's fae but it's very different from her Wicked Lovely series.

GOODREADS


Jane Steele
by Lyndsay Faye

Not my usual read but I'm so glad I picked it up. A retelling of Jane Eyre - only this one is good ;)

GOODREADS | MY REVIEW

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication: August 2015 by Kathy Dawson Books
Acquisition: bought

Synopsis:
Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she's ready or not.
(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars

The Accident Season wasn't what I thought it would be but I don't think I'm disappointed by that.

I don't want to give too much away but I did have some assumptions and I wasn't quite right about any of them.

The story is fabulous though and I loved the characters.

Here's the thing -- The Accident Season is a very deep book. It's a book, to quote the dust jacket that "captures that time in our lives when our hearts crack open and the raw secrets of our true selves burst forth" -- yeah...can't say that has ever happened to me. Raw secrets and hearts cracking open? That's not really my style.

Even with all the feelings and really deep meanings behind a lot of things, The Accident Season isn't just a contemporary and even with the touch of strange and unknown, it isn't just a mystery. I think that's why it worked for me. Honestly, if raw, hearts cracking, feelings everywhere was all that it was, I would have passed it over in a heart beat cause...yeah...

Overall though, I was surprised and glad that I stuck with it.

I do have to say, don't let the synopsis fool you (like it did to me!). The Accident Season is pretty much 100% a contemporary story and if you're looking for something a little more, it may not be for you. What I did love though was that it's the type of book that isn't going to be the same thing for everyone.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: Dark Energy by Robison Wells

Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publication: March 2016 by HarperTeen
Acquisition: received an ARC at ALAMW 2016

Synopsis:
We are not alone.

Five days ago, a massive UFO crashed in the Midwest. Since then, nothing—or no one—has come out.

They have arrived.

If it were up to Alice, she’d be watching all of this on the news from Miami, Florida. Instead, she’s the newest student at a boarding school not far from the crash site—because her dad is the director of special projects for NASA, and if anything is a special project, it’s this.

And there’s no going back.

A shell-shocked country is waiting, glued to televisions and computer screens, for a sign of what the new future holds. But when the aliens emerge, they’re nothing like what Alice expected. And only one thing is clear: Nothing will ever be the same again.
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars

Sci-fi young adult standalone?

What what?!

Oh yeah!

So much freaken love for Dark Energy.

The story is awesomely awesome.

When I think of aliens coming to earth I totally see it the way things went down in Dark Energy. No secret, long con infiltration. It's a crash landing.

No aliens today.
Boom!
Aliens fall from the sky.
Crap - what now?

It's not neat and clean and there aren't nice little boxes you can draw around, well, anything. Not the reason for the aliens coming to earth, or the state of their ship, or what they really are, or where they come from, or what the people of earth will or can do now -- no boxes!

And speaking of that spaceship? The scenes where Alice and her friends help explore the interior (oh yeah, that happens) -- it's some of the best pages of sci-fi I've ever read. It's realistic and nothing is glossed over and OMG I wish it were actually a real thing and I could be there with her! (ok, maybe not, cause...well...reasons. But yeah, it's awesome).

I can't recommend Dark Energy enough. It's not long and it's not complicated but it's so full.

It's a book I think all types of readers could enjoy - reluctant, hard core sci-fi fans, YA fans, Non YA fans, people who like words in paragraph form -- yeah, pretty much everyone.

Seriously, even if sci-fi isn't your go-to read, I would give Dark Energy a try. At its core, it's a fabulous story by a fabulous author and you won't be disappointed.